OTTAWA, Canada – Canada’s refusal to accredit Sputnik and RIA Novosti correspondents to cover the Lima Group’s ministerial meeting on Venezuela is a “politically motivated process,” the Russian Embassy in Canada said Monday.
“The decision by the Canadian Foreign Ministry to deny accreditation to Russian media at the so-called Lima Group meeting in Ottawa seems shameful and deserves resolute condemnation. The harassment directed at Sputnik and RIA Novosti news agencies, as well as the TASS correspondent duly accredited in Canada, runs counter to Canada’s declared commitment to freedom of expression and is nothing more than the political persecution of journalists,” the press office of the Embassy said.
The text further noted that Canada should stop the practice of restricting the right of journalists to freely cover events without obstruction or harassment.
“Ottawa must apply itself to the same rules and standards, the observance it requires of others,” he added.
Earlier, the RIA Novosti and Sputnik correspondents had credentials denied to cover the group’s meeting. In response to a request for explanations on the matter, the spokesman for the Lima Group meeting, Richard Walker, who also holds the same position as the Canadian diplomatic mission, justified Sputnik’s refusal of the agency’s courtesy with the minister of the country.
The group also denied accreditation to the interstate television station teleSUR, founded by former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
Venezuelan opposition party chairman Juan Guaidó has declared himself interim president of Venezuela on January 23 in the wake of anti-government protests. The United States and allied countries have declared their recognition. The Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro, called Guaido a “puppet of the United States.”
Russia, China and several other countries supported Maduro as the legitimate president of Venezuela. A source at the RIA Novosti in Brussels on Monday reported that Italy had blocked the EU statement recognizing Guaidó as interim president of Venezuela.
Chief editor of international news agency Rossiya Segodnya, Margarita Simonyan, commented on Ottawa’s refusal to grant accreditation to RIA Novosti and Sputnik, both part of Rossiya Segodnya, for the Lima Group ministerial meeting on Monday.
“It seems that we were naïve in believing that press freedoms were a consolidated value in Canada, and not a privilege granted arbitrarily only to those who cordially and unquestionably paraded the line of government, never bringing in inconvenient facts and stories. For anyone who dares to ask difficult questions in this more polished country: if this attitude is representative of the ‘democratic’ approach that supposedly guarantees the secure, stable and prosperous future of Venezuela, then may God help us,” said Simonyan.